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13 weeks

And it was an especially Maundy Thursday this time around.

This is the thirteenth week after Penny died.
Yesterday, the 12th, was bad-ish at 4pm. I was able to cope by digging out the Anglican rosary and in a nice, liesurely fashion, praying a series of blessings and thank-yous for Penny. That turned the hollowness away, for a while.

Today, though... I knew at 4pm, and ruthlessly said, "I have to finish this set of edits before they bring back the test system so I will have something to ZZZzzzzzz..." Yeah, narcolepsy, 15 minutes of nothing inserted where I would otherwise have begun to feel at the hollow, dry-socket empty spot around my heart.

6:30 came around, and it was time to head for dinner before going to church. I probably should have known I was going to have trouble when I was walking to the car and started howling, because it was time for us to ... right. Me to go. But no pho this time. Maybe stop at Sushi or at the teriyaki place the cops eat at?

Sushi Town was full. At 6:40, there was no empty spot anywhere, and I didn't want to hang around forever, so I went next door to Jin Wah.
They had a special on Asparagus Beef. I love Asparagus Beef. I introduced Penny to it at a place in Berkeley back in 1979. We figured out how to make it ourselves.

So, I get a table for one. The place is mostly empty. Five minutes after I sit, water and tea arrive, and I've finished looking at the menu and finished talking to my mom on the phone, arranging to go down for Easter Sunday dinner. Don't really want to - hate the drive - but I need to see my family and this will likely be the only chance to do so for a few weeks.

And five minutes after that, a full ten minutes since I was seated, the waiter still hasn't approached me, and I'm getting increasingly upset. Since I asked for a table for one, and he brought me there himself, he knows I'm not waiting for anyone else. Four other parties have been seated, and orders taken, since I arrived. Finally I get fed up, and walk up to the front desk and ask, "Is it possible for me to speak with a waiter, or are there any on tonight? I've been waiting for about ten minutes now and I'd like to order."

They act like they've been caught with their pants around their ankles behind the counter, and one of them takes my order, which is delivered, as I thought, within 6 minutes. Asparagus Beef is a FAST dish, especially when the ingredients are easily made ahead and assembled quickly in a giant superheated wok.

It was perfect, of course. I ate half, got a box with no effort (this time the waiter didn't pretend not to see my hand signals and waves for attention) and took the rest to eat after the service.

I got there to find that the 7:30 start-time had been spontaneously changed - instead, we had a 7:15 light meal of mediterranean foods (darnit, I could've not bothered with stopping for dinner) and a foot-washing service with intermittent readings; the liturgy would be at 7:45 in the sanctuary. I got tapped to help usher (I was wearing my bright, bright rainbow colored tie-died russian-made Henley, real formal that :P) ... I went inside, grabbed a fresh date, and found that Susanne Caerthou (RN, Music Thanatologist) was playing harp. Every plink of that harp picked loose some scab or other on my soul, and I went out on the deck (not visible with the blinds drawn) apologizing to the person in front of the deck door that the room was too hot (it was). It was raining enough to wash my face off, and I gathered myself enough to escape from the room, feet unwashed. This is because with that many people present, I refuse to go off and start blubbing out loud, which would have happened.

The church was very very busy. The Journey Koinonea (sic?) people use the church on Maundy Thursday for a completely NOT in keeping 'passover feast' where they collapse the entirety of Lent and everything up to Easter into one swell pot-luck party, but without the shouting out, really loud music and singing, and enthusiastic liturgical dance that marred the first two years we gave them the use of our Fellowship Hall for their big church meeting. Meanwhile, the AA group that meets Thursday nights is very cranky downstairs. One of the people in that meeting left in a powerful sulk partway through, as we were processing in, and was followed by another. He flung some sort of a snarkastic remark either at me or at the other guy, I couldn't tell which. I had been watching him, wondering if he needed help, but he seemed in control of himself (though he may have been drunk, which would have been an issue at the meeting, I guess.)

Anyway. I stayed out in the narthex for most of the service part of the service, taking advantage of the fact that when I'm serving others, I stay in better control of myself. The sermon started out with some exquisitely chosen line by our youngest priest, something on the order of "Have you ever found yourself saying goodbye to someone you love, knowing you'll never see them again," and I wanted to hit him. Hard. But it wasn't really what he was getting at, of course; he was trying to get into the 'Jesus talking to his disciples as a mentor' thing.

The eucharist was one of the more beautiful and strenuous ones. We took up the collection, and the entire (76 person) congregtion gathered around the INSIDE of the Altar Rail. St. Barts has a very unusual configuration - the altar is directly under the steepled roof at the center of the 'Cross' formed by sanctuary and transepts. It's a huge, textured cement block. It's directly under a huge, pounded, wrought-iron cross suspended in the air as though it were weightless. The sun comes in around the cupola of the steeple and lights up the cross, in the day, and at night, spotlights keep it lit.

Anyway. Inside the altar rail. All of us, with the choir around the outside because they didn't fit, quite. They used a very old (?) Athanasian (?) liturgy that's been updated only very slightly, and we had the bread and wine, then we said the prayer of thanksgiving for the eucharist, then we all sang again, a plainsong piece (again, too tired to remember the name, but it's plainchant and Eastery and you might know it on hearing it. I was able to sing it without trouble (though my throat hurts a bit now.)

Then, silence, they remove the remaining consecrated bread from the altar to a small table. Then people strip the altar. Some of us are moved by the Spirit to help take stuff away as needed - my fellow usher didn't know that the black iron candlesticks as tall as he is, also WEIGH almost as much as he does. They are hefty, wrought iron, not thin pounded-out or rolled-out to get effect of mass.
Which is why I took the kneeling pillows instead.

I was grabbed by Lynn Chapman afterwards. She'd wanted to talk to me for weeks and weeks after church, so I bit the bullet and talked. Her daughter had died, some years ago, of a bone cancer that went away and then came back, but she had, as she said, a year or so to become accustomed to the idea. Susanne came in as well, to clear up her stuff and get her harp, and hadn't heard that Penny had died. Susanne had been in a car accident, was unhurt but her car was totalled and she had no money for a new one. Anyway.

I dumped the story on both of them. Susanne is going to play for Penny - something she sometimes does as a form of prayer. She feels that since God is not limited in time, that He will honor this, and maybe Penny will get to hear it as well. I hope so. She really liked Susanne's music, but we didn't want to have the 'lulled off' thing at the time.

My earlier post said I was on guard. Yeah, I was doing the 'security' thing. One of the newer members, who I didn't remember meeting but whom I had seen at church, came in and wandered towards the prayer area, and I asked him who he was, and if he wanted to go inside to pray or to wait in the library and I would let him know when his shift came.

Watched "What Dreams May Come" and wished they had chosen another actor. Robin Williams did not pull off 'young' in this movie. His face is just too prune-leathered.

This is a movie about death, sort of. In some respects, it's like a unitarian-universalist version of Touched By An Angel only without actual angels as such, only the 'more experienced, more advanced' dead people that might've known you in life.
I liked some of what they said about the nature of heaven, but there was a huge amount of wishy-washy bullshite, and a conspicuous and annoying absence of God. Nor do I believe in reincarnation, at least, not casual reincarnation; therefore, it threw off my suspension of disbelief. However, it was, indeed, a thoroughly gorgeous movie. The music was good but not impressive, really.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 14th, 2006 02:47 pm (UTC)
Easter is Upon Us!
My mother and I visited my father's grave on Wednesday. It hasn't been raining much this spring, but most of the plants in the little garden we planted around the monument were doing great--the grass was just dying. It was a little unsettling being there, though. The sod over my father's grave lacks the checkered pattern my grandmother's does. He's been there six months longer.

When we had finished, we walked around for a bit, watched some ducks and sat among the trees and boulders of a really beautiful little grove there. Then we visited some of my mother's family at another grave site. We have lots of family there, including one of my uncles who died at birth and was buried in an unmarked grave. Don't know where he is now, and my grandmother is gone, so we'll probably never know...

On our way out of the cemetary, I caught a glimpse of a larger monument with 'Basilian Fathers' engraved on it. Apparently the order that runs my parish, two schools and a univerisity uses the same cemetary to intern it's members. There was a fresh grave there, checkered sod and all, the final resting place of a priest we'd buried a few weeks earlier. I took it as a sign that we were in the right church. The more time I spend there, the closer I feel to God, my restored faith, and my family.

Speaking of which, I have to get going. I'm going to be in church a lot today. I'm praying for you and Penny. May the peace of Christ be with you both.
Apr. 14th, 2006 04:23 pm (UTC)
Re: Easter is Upon Us!
My Episcopalian reflex had me saying "And also with you," out loud.

I'm glad you were able to rediscover your faith, and everything that goes with it.
Apr. 15th, 2006 03:12 am (UTC)
Re: Easter is Upon Us!
That would be my reaction as well--I think you'd feel right at home in a Roman Catholic church! I think the biggest difference you'd see in the services is some people actually not getting up to take the Eucharist. I've never been to an Episcopal service, though, so I'm sure there's a lot more to it. Like.. Praying for the Pope every now and then during intercessions. Or.. The opening prayer of Contrition asking for Mary's intercession. Or..

I think I have a lot to learn.
Apr. 15th, 2006 05:48 am (UTC)
Re: Easter is Upon Us!
I have issues with several of the doctrines that have been put into play.

We pray for all leaders of all churches in the regular prayers of the people, though we normally mention only the presiding bishop of the ECUSA and out own bishop, by name. One of our former priests had converted from Catholicism, and continued his personal devotion to Mary, but that only manifested in the regular liturgy in the use of her name in the prayer during Eucharist, "And now, with the ever-blessed Virgin Mary, St. Bartholomew our patron, and all your saints, we ask..." And of course, on the feast day of St. Mary (third sunday of Advent) there would be a more involved prayer.

But in general, Episcopalian and most Anglican practice doesn't involve invoking the intercession of saints, as we believe that Jesus doesn't really want us to involve a middle-man.

I wouldn't be permitted to take communion - some pope sometime declared infallibly that the Anglican communion was nasty, wicked, and awful and that we didn't get to really truly have priests, and that God would grudgingly allow us individually into His presence, most likely after considerable time in Purgatory. Oh yes, and none of our priests get to be real priests because we lack the Apostolic succession so there nyeah.

(Can you tell I think there was a bit of childishness involved in that bit of Papal bull?) In order to nyeah-nyeah back, the Anglicans (who certainly DID have the laying on of hands at their ordination in apostolic succession) got an additional reinforcement of same by at least one French bishop who disagreed. To the general upper-archy of the Roman church, we're all still officially traif. Our opinion is that there is way too much Pharisaic spirit in the Vatican, and that they left out one of the three legs of the faith.

About finding the a Roman Catholic church to make me feel at home... I think there would be a lot which I would find beautiful and deeply meaningful, but I don't think it could be my spiritual home in general, any more than I could find the Orhodox church the same. Individual churches might vary, of course - it's really a combination of whether the congregation and the clergy are openly welcoming and supportive, and what kind of liturgy, doctrine, and practice is there. The thing is, I disagree strongly with the idea that to be a priest in conformation to the image of Christ requires a penis, and with the idea that priests may not be married (which I think is contrary to scripture, by the way), and with the idea that the Bishop of Rome has any sort of special supreme authority beyond that of any patriarch, no, there is no scriptural support for that, nor did the other patriarchs agree with Rome's assertions in that direction in ancient times.
Apr. 15th, 2006 03:06 pm (UTC)
Re: Easter is Upon Us!
When I said you'd feel right at home, I meant you'd know when to sit, stand or kneel, and you wouldn't have to recite the Nicene Creed out of the missal. :)

I think priests should be allowed to marry as well. Peter was married. The first Bishop of Rome. Paul was probably the only unmarried, literate Apostle. People make jokes about Paul and Timothy all the time. :)

Women should be ordained. In Romans 16:7, Paul writes, 'Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives and my fellow prisoners; they are prominent among the apostles and they were in Christ before me.' Junia, or Julia in some manuscripts, is a woman's name! Funny that many translators changed that to Junias, a man's name. Paul is such a trouble maker.

Don't think that we Catholics don't recognize the problem of our shrinking priesthood. I'd be in a seminary right now if the church allowed gay priests to marry other men in a religiously sanctioned, sacramental sort of way. I'm not holding my breath.
Apr. 15th, 2006 05:44 pm (UTC)
Re: Easter is Upon Us!
Ah, yeah, that's true, except that we use a different phrasing of the Nicene creed. They've also decided (feh) to go to the version of the creed that says the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, but omits 'and the Son'.

Yeah. The letter to Timothy is where Paul instructs that all bishops should be married to one wife, because the way they manage their family life is a guide to how they'll handle their responsibilities to their flocks.

I've heard some arguments that Paul was, in fact, married, to a shrewish woman (and no surprise there, with his attitude about sex, and his choice to live in poverty and to travel widely, that she'd be dissatisfied).

The Episcopal church also has a problem with 'shrinking' priesthood. There are not very many priests under the age of 40, which has been a real problem.
Apr. 15th, 2006 06:16 pm (UTC)
Re: Easter is Upon Us!
Oh yes, the Eastern Orthodox version! Huh. The language is kind of tricky. If Jesus was born to Mary through the Spirit, doesn't the son proceed from the Spirit? Gah, I'm turning heretical as I type. Time for some self-flagellation.

I think the RC probablem is pretty bad. Worse. The average age of a priest in the Basilian order is 67. Basilians have a high school and a university here in town, so there are usually lots of priests available for services that require them. Last Monday's reconciliation service had eight, but there was only one head there that wasn't frosted white. Giving a confession to someone who looks vaguely like my grandfather is a little strange, especially bringing up some of the.. shadier elements of my past.

I've been praying over this a lot lately. This is my church. I could be a damn good pastor. I just can't ignore who I am, and what I am. Poverty and Chastity wouldn't be the sticking point, it's the Obedience thing I'd struggle with.
Apr. 15th, 2006 07:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Easter is Upon Us!
The original phrasing was also "Conceived of the Father and the Virgin Mary". Hence the 'Theotokos' and supporting the doctrine that Jesus was, in fact, fully human as well as fully God.

Yeah. Obedience would be a problem for me too, because I don't believe what they found it on.
Apr. 14th, 2006 10:54 pm (UTC)
Ow. My heart goes out to you for your loss, and I hope that your faith can help you bear/heal the wounds that are currently so fresh.

*hugs & best wishes*

Apr. 14th, 2006 11:48 pm (UTC)
It's helping to write it down, in terms of making room for peace, but paradoxically, right now if I go back and re-read what I've written, it puts me into 'flashback' mode.

Which means I'm actually conveying some of what this feels like, I guess.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )